Stanley R. Oldham
To the Editor:
Saturday Feb. 8, 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the early death (at age 57 due to a heart ailment) of accomplished St. Johnsbury Academy principal, Stanley R. Oldham. A quick look back at Oldham’s life and times is order.
Born on May 15, 1887 in Toledo, Iowa, Stanley Reginald Oldham went on to study at and graduate from Lebanon Valley College in Amisville, Pa. in the Class of 1908. Oldham was elected captain of the LVC varsity baseball team in spring 1907 and he was a four year varsity letter winner in the sport. Oldham studied English while in college and later received an M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin along with an honorary doctorate of education degree from Norwich University.
His Burlington Free Press obituary of Fri. Feb. 9, 1945 listed his educational career accomplishments following his formal higher educational attainments: “[f]rom 1910-1913 he was an instructor of English and debate at Bates [C]ollege, Lewiston, Me.; principal of Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield, Me. from 1913-1920; principal of Norwood, Mass. high school, 1921-1924; secretary of Massachusetts teachers federation and associate director of Camp [Wyandot] and Camp Winnemont from 1924-1932; [and] principal of St. Johnsbury [A]cademy from 1933 [until] his death today [(Thur. Feb. 8, 1945)].” (“Stanley R. Oldham, Academy Head, St. Johnsbury, Dies,” The Burlington Free Press, Fri. Feb. 9, 1945, at p. 2).
Oldham’s tenure as principal at the Academy was marked by expansion of academic class offerings, particularly in the arts, debate/public speaking, drama, music, and an agriculture course; fostering an esprit de corps among the faculty and students during the difficult times of The Great Depression and the American entrance into World War II; and by responding to the national needs of the war effort with scrap metal drives along with instituting a course in aeronautics at SJA during the 1942-1943 academic year. Around St. Johnsbury, Stanley Oldham served as a deacon at South Congregational Church and as a member of the Rotary and Sphinx clubs.
Stanley R. Oldham was eulogized at a funeral service at South Congregational Church on Sun. Feb. 11, 1945 and at another memorial service on Tues. Feb. 13, 1945 in Hummelstown, Pa. Burial followed at Hershey (Pa.) Cemetery.
Christopher E. Ryan
Los Angeles, California